Researchers discovered the black hole which was found to be at least twice as large as thought was possible. The monstrous stellar black hole – which means it was formed after a dead star collapsed in on itself – has a mass of more than 70 times that of the Sun. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered the black hole, which has been dubbed LB-1, more than 15,000 light-years from Earth.
The revelation could completely re-write everything scientists know about the mysterious entities.
Professor Jifeng Liu said: “Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our Galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution.
“We thought that very massive stars with the chemical composition typical of our Galaxy must shed most of their gas in powerful stellar winds, as they approach the end of their life.
“Therefore, they should not leave behind such a massive remnant. LB-1 is twice as massive as what we thought possible.
“Now theorists will have to take up the challenge of explaining its formation.”
The black hole was discovered using the LAMOST optical telescope in north-east China to look for stars that orbit around an invisible object, pulled by its gravity.
Professor Liu continued: “This search was by no means an easy task. Only one star in a thousand may be going round a black hole: it is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”
Study collaborator and co-author Professor Alexander Heger from the Monash University School of Physics and Astronomy said: “It was remarkable that this black hole had been found close-by in our own galaxy, and not in distant galaxies such as those detected by LIGO.
Scientists believe the most common instance is when a star, thousands of times the size of the Sun, collapses in on itself when it dies – known as a supernova.
Another way is when a large amount of matter, which can be in the form of a gas cloud or a star collapses in on itself through its own gravitational pull.
Finally, the collision of two neutron stars can cause a black hole.
The gist of all three ways is that a massive amount of mass located in one spot can cause a black hole.